Champaign County continues vaccine push


Ryan Ash

A senior Champaign County resident receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 12 at the I-Hotel. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has recently expanded vaccinations to individuals who are 65 or older and have underlying health conditions.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

COVID-19 vaccines have become available to the 1B group, the second pool of eligible individuals who have been authorized to receive the shot by the federal government. 

Phase 1B consists of individuals who are 65 or older and frontline essential workers including public transit workers and educators. 

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has been administering COVID-19 vaccines for residents who were 75 or older but have expanded eligibility to individuals 65 or older with underlying health conditions.

“The 1B group is a much larger population of people that need to be vaccinated, and the state did not break it up into priorities within the group,” said Awais Vaid, the deputy administrator of CUPHD. “At the local level we have been subcategorizing within the groups to reach out to the most vulnerable groups first because the vaccine supply is very limited.”

The number of vaccines administered depends on the number supplied by the government on a weekly basis. The categorization has been set up in order to prioritize those who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and have one of the highest rates of morality in the county.

Individuals who are forced to have interactions where they’re unable to keep physical distance, such as daycare providers, are another high risk group that could potentially infect others and will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine.

“Since I’m doing social work services in the school district that I’m a part of right now, support services are considered specialty work,” said Kevin Soto, graduate student in the School of Social Work. “I’m working with students in person and we were considered 1A.” 

Soto got his first shot of Moderna on Jan. 13. He hasn’t experienced any side effects, and he will receive his second dose of the vaccine in a month. 

Champaign County has administered more than 16,000 vaccines so far, with more than 2,000 individuals fully vaccinated for COVID-19, according to the CUPHD.

“We’ve had no major reactions that would limit the person from getting the second dose or requiring any additional hospitalization or care as only a handful of people have had minor allergic reactions so far,” Vaid said.

The clinics are anticipating between 4,000 to 7,000 appointments for the upcoming week’s vaccine distribution and have been sending information to various members in the community in order to inform others about these openings.

“We are hoping that at some point the state will allow local providers to be able to order vaccines directly and then be able to administer it similar to a flu shot,” Vaid said. “But that has not happened as yet because of the limitations of the federal government in a number of vaccines we get every week.”

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